What is Therapeutic Listening?

Therapeutic listening is an evidence-based type of therapy for people of any age, particularly for those with a sensory processing disorder. It's mostly targeted toward children, however. In this therapy, the patient listens to specialized music using headphones to help learn skills like:

  • Sensory integration
  • Attention
  • Communication
  • Social skills
  • Navigating and perceiving space

How People Experience Therapeutic Listening

Everybody has their own personal experience of how they take in music and how it impacts how they feel and interact with others around them. Music causes your brain, ears and body to respond in both unconscious and conscious ways.

Think about listening to your favorite music, maybe a certain song you like. Now think of how you may begin tapping your toe or swaying your body without even realizing it. Therapeutic listening helps people having trouble dealing with the environment around them and/or organizing themselves to be more successful by using the inherent musical properties.

Therapeutic listening music is different from other types of music you've heard. The music is altered specifically to harness the areas of the brain that attend to and process sound efficiently. It helps listeners be able to better focus on and engage with related aspects of their world with a more complete presence.

Benefits of Therapeutic Listening

Therapeutic listening offers many benefits to a wide variety of people of different ages who may exhibit:

  • Limited play skills and difficulties interacting with peers
  • Poor attention
  • Challenges navigating and perceiving space
  • Troubles communicating (both non-verbal and verbal)
  • Challenges with changes in routine or transitions
  • Troubles with energy level regulation (i.e. hyperactive or too low arousal)
  • Struggles with bladder and bowel control, sleep and eating
  • Difficulties with mood, irritability
  • Difficulties with following directions
  • Poor timing and sequencing of motor skills
  • Difficulties with responding to verbal directions or responding to sounds
  • Abnormal sensory stimuli responses (touch, sounds, pain, taste)
  • Poor praxis and motor planning (planning, coming up with ideas, completing tasks)

This isn't an exhaustive list of the many therapeutic listening benefits. You may wish to consult with the pediatric occupational therapist to see if therapeutic listening is right for your child.

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